I’m aggravated. You could even say pissed off.
Well, Chris, come on, you can’t just say something like that and then not elaborate.
Yeah, yeah, I know. So, you want to know what pisses me off? What pisses off a writer in the so-called “community”?
Readers who equate a work of fiction to the author’s personal character. That’s right, and for once, it’s not my own work in question here. I’ve been called all sorts of names by reviewers who’ve read my books: psychopath, pedophile, homophobe, racist, you name it. And it’s all 100% horseshit. But when I see reviewers heaping that nonsense on other writers—especially in the horror genre—it, well…
It pisses me off.
Most people have no clue how much effort goes into writing a novel. They don’t know the months, sometimes years, dedicated to constructing the very best story you can. Sure, readers have every right not to enjoy your hard work, and they have every right to voice that they do not like it, but there should at least still be a little respect for the author’s efforts, even if it isn’t to your taste, and there should certainly be respect for the author as an individual. It’s entirely possible that the author failed on every front as a storyteller, and it’s fair to say so, but it is not fair to equate the thoughts, deeds, and actions of fictional characters to the personal character of the author.
When I see a brand new work of fiction come out and I begin reading, I’m learning about a person, but I’m not learning about the author, necessarily. I’m learning about a character or characters they have created. People who are not them. So when those people who are not the author do or say or think something off-color, cruel, or outright evil, my reactions to those behaviors are directed towards the character, who isnot the author.
Unfortunately, many seem incapable of taking the same approach. In the age of ‘cancel-culture’ and the constant hunt for what to be outraged over next, people have started to equivocate the content of fiction with the personal constitutions of creators of fiction. They take umbrage to a racist character in a book saying racist things. They take umbrage with characters written true to their station in life and geographic locale, the sort of locker room banter we all remember hearing growing up. But if you write those kinds of scenes accurately, you’re called a bigot. It’s insane, but it’s also very, very stupid. Sure, you have every right to seek outrage at every turn, but please know that the rest of the world is laughing at you and your pathetic sensitivity over MADE UP PEOPLE, for eff’s sake!
I’m getting even more confounded that the particular writing “community” that I’m involved in is the horror one, and for a group who supposedly loves scary stuff and lots of blood and guts, they sure will have a ridiculous hissy fit if an animal is harmed in a story. People? No problem. Even children? Mostly, though a dead kid still doesn’t rise to the level of outrage a harmed animal will in their minds. That’s sick. Not the fact that a HORROR WRITER wrote something HORRIFYING in their HORROR book, but that a reader can get so wound up over the content that they end up writing really shitty reviews (that take them all of five minutes to write as opposed to the months or years the author took in writing their novel) attacking the fact that there are HORRIFYING things in a HORROR novel.
If you don’t like horror, don’t read it. If you don’t like extreme horror, then don’t read that. If you personally have an issue reading about harm coming to children or animals, that’s a perfectly reasonable and understandable thing, and nothing to be ashamed of. But when you read something that isn’t a good fit for you and you review it, stick to the writing. If it’s poorly written, say so. If it’s poor character development, say so. If it’s just not engaging or exciting, say so. Maybe it just wasn’t a good fit for; say so. But stop going into reviews of books you didn’t like and attacking the author personally, or trying to equate them to the characters they created.
Somewhere along the way some idiot decided that characters have to be likable for a book to work. Bullshit. They have to be relatable, they have to be believable, but they do not have to be likable. Not at all. It depends on the story being told whether there will be any likable characters or not.
If an author writes a racist character who uses a racist slur, that is believable and realistic that a racist would use that sort of language. Same for a sexist character or any other kind of bigot. What do you want, Klan member characters written as being politically correct SJWs? What the fuck is going through your brains? Why is it so hard to recognize the difference between trying to write realistically for the story you’re telling and who the author is as an individual?
I don’t care if you like this post. I really don’t. I’m sick of seeing this happen to good people in the “community” (the quotation marks are there on purpose), and yeah, I’m saying something about it. Your mistake of reading something that doesn’t sit well with you or isn’t your cup of tea is your fault, not the author’s (I’m obviously speaking to books you dislike because of content, not the writing itself). I get that some people may not want to read about a character who is racist or a homophobe or a misogynist. It’s ugly stuff. That’s fine. If you come across that in a book, I can see it being a turn off and you should even make mention of that in your review, that it’s something you personally can’t handle reading. Fine. But don’t go call the author a bigot. Fuck you for that. Seriously.
Let me clarify once more here—this is not about me. It’s happened to me before, but it’s been a long while and that’s not what prompted this post. I’m not ‘defending my honor’, lol. It’s another author who I know, who I know to be a decent, kind, bleeding heart, getting a review that calls them a bigot. Them, not the character(s) in the book. And they are far from the only ones getting inundated with this nonsense. We all get bad reviews. I’ve gotten some really negative ones that are on my writing before. I have thick skin and I can take criticism and I use that to better my craft. But I’m real sick of being told what an author is “allowed” to write about, how “real” they can get. Eat a bag of molded hotdogs and get the hell out of here with that crap. You don’t like it, fine. But keep your self-righteous indignation and phony ‘outrage’ to yourself. It’s a book. It’s made up. Talk about the writing, talk about the characters and their development, talk about the pacing, the prose, the payoff. Is Stephen King considered a pedophile or a racist for having written IT? I mean it, go read that book, you self-important cretans. You going to throw him under the bus too because he wrote about awful characters doing awful things?
I didn’t think so. Anyway, my blood is up, I need to pick up groceries, and I’m starting to ramble. Eat my shorts. Love you guys. Well, some of you, anyway. The rest of you give this a second read.